Bill on Charitable Ag Research Groups Needs Cosponsors

July 15, 2011 Bookmark and Share

Congressional leaders seeking to advance a bill that would allow the creation of tax-exempt charitable organizations focusing on agricultural research are looking for original cosponsors for the legislation.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) formulated the bill, which eight other Members have already agreed to cosponsor – including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.); Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.); Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.); Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.); Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.); Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.); Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.); and Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.).

The bill as drafted would amend federal tax code to allow the establishment of public charities focused specifically on agricultural research.

Organizations established under the new law would be called agriculture research organizations, or AROs. They would be required to be engaged in research with a land-grant university or other college of agriculture and commit more than half their annual assets, or 3.5 percent of the value of their endowment, to continual agricultural research.

There would be no tax differences between AROs and regular charitable organizations, including similarly structured medical research organizations (sometimes known as MROs).

This important change would allow donors –individuals or families – to commit funds to agricultural research with tax advantages, which could draw significant new funds to important work that is receiving fewer and fewer public dollars.

Private analysis of the bill text shows that it would likely cost very little in federal budget terms – $12 million over 10 years.

NAWG strongly supports many efforts to increase funds dedicated to agricultural research and appreciates the creative approach the ARO concept offers for bringing new money to ag research. NAWG’s Board of Directors passed a resolution in March supporting the ARO concept, and NAWG sent a letter to Nunes’ offices in May for the same purpose, available at